What was your path to becoming a therapist? What inspired you to choose this profession?
I have always felt pulled to sit with others and listen to their experience. I believe that each person experiences certain aspects of life at different intensities which at times, can feel isolating. In my middle school years, I became more aware of mental health around family members as well as friends, I was introduced to a family friend that was a therapist, she shared her journey with me and my fire was lit then and there. In my later high school years, I stepped into the client side of therapy myself. Truthfully, it wasn’t the best experience and I felt discouraged, I later on made the decision to try therapy again with a different therapist and realized that I had found the right fit. When I found a therapist that was best suited for my personality and needs, I found therapy extremely helpful and insightful. I have carried on with my own therapy throughout my years and I am attuned to the power it holds in a client’s sense of self and personal growth. If anything, throughout my personal life, academic experience, and training years, my passion for this role has continuously grown. I find it crucial to continue learning and growing as the field of psychology continues to expand.
How have your personal experiences helped your work with your clients?
Absolutely, I’m human too! While the focus is always on my clients, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a form of a relationship and connection. When a client chooses to work with me, I honor the scared space of our sessions and what comes up for them. It’s important to me that my clients feel like I am a good fit for what they’re looking to work on, and vice versa as a therapeutic relationship for me is centered around safety, transparency, respect, and authenticity. There is a beautiful balance that can happen when the client and therapist are a good match to work together and understanding that process on both sides has been beneficial not only for myself, but for my clients as well. Growing up in Orange County and continuing my adult life here, I can understand certain pressures and standards that make things more challenging to navigate at times. In my personal therapeutic journey and lived experience, I have learned how to access my authentic self through living my truth, that is what I encourage for my clients as well.
Is there an example from your daily life where you practice what you preach?
Something I touch on with all of my clients is, how much time is available for you? With the craziness of the world and all of the messaging we are flooded with, I believe that scheduling time for ourselves is really important. In order to connect authentically with others and maintain healthy relationships, the relationship with ourselves should be a priority. I’ve come to learn that as we age, we remold ourselves to fit these predetermined spaces society wannts us to fit into, leaving us feeling burnt out, depleted, resentful, lost, and often confused. Each Sunday night/Monday morning, I write out the week ahead to see where I can fit in some time for myself and STICK TO IT! That part took practice; with a lot of trial and error I was able to find balance. I move through the world in an intentional way, I accept that I am not perfect, and I accept that I am a constant work in progress – I encourage my clients to challenge their thoughts throughout the day and check in with themselves in order to reconnect with their truth.
Kelly Cooper is supervised by Dr. Sahar Martinez, LMFT (License #111456).